Cold and Flu Fighting Elderberry Syrup

elderberry syrup

The Easiest Elderberry Syrup Recipe..

This is the easiest elderberry syrup recipe. And instead of buying an expensive bottle at the market, why not brew up some of your own? Elderberries contain nutrient dense, immune boosting, antiviral properties, typically made into syrups for coughs, colds, and respiratory conditions during flu season. They are high in vitamin C, vitamin A, flavonoids, beta carotene, and iron.

But first. A sweet story. I met a little girl this morning  picking elderberries from a local tree,many Austin herbalists know of. A  secret tree nestled behind a stream, away from all the city noise. I told her that if she wanted to see fairies, she needs to stand under the elder tree on midsummer’s eve. However, be careful not to fall asleep or they will carry you off.  Fairies are always hiding in lush elderflower. And you often hear, ask the fairy queen for permission to harvest the berries.

She smiled and then confessed she picked some berries that were too young. They are a bit green, I said, but that’s ok.  Let’s find some older ones! We circled around the tree, abundant with bushels of berries, and found the ripe ones that nearly fell off when you touched them. Plump and purple, with so much juice to use! Bidding farewell to my new fairy seeking friend, I carried my bounty home in my foraging basket to make some immune boosting elderberry syrup.

There is a lot of folklore surrounding the elder tree, especially involving fairies. The name sambucus derives from the Greek word Sambuke, a musical instrument supposedly made from elderberry wood. Elderberries have always had a reputation for healing the sick, but in elderberry’s golden age, it made music to heal the spirit. The trees have been our long time friends and allies. They are special, and a wonderful way to ease into making plant medicine.

When to forage for them

In Texas, it’s best to harvest them in the fall, when the berries are plump and purple and the stems are a deep crimson red. If the berries don’t easily fall off when you touch them, they probably are not ready. 

The flowers can be gathered in the spring, they are a great remedy against hay fever and asthmatic conditions. Pick the flowers when they are in full bloom. I have fried them, and used them in pancakes to impress house guests, and a elderflower cordial.  I often use the dried flowers to make a tea to help with my allergies, and you can order the dried flowers from Mountain Rose Herbs year round. I told you this was a magical tree. Elderberry will be your best friend during the winter for keeping colds at bay! Just a spoonful of elderberry syrup a day. Mary Poppins would approve.

I’m making a version of Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe, and I threw in some orange peel along with more fresh ginger this time because it was in the fridge. Vitamin C can’t hurt right? It also provides an extra added layer of citrus that gives it a zing. For any confusion on herbal conversions when measuring in volume, use this handy spreadsheet and enter the amount of herbs and water.

Cold and Flu Fighting Elderberry Syrup

elderberry syrup

Rosemary Gladstar’s most memorable recipe for fighting off a cold or flu! 

  • Prep Time5 min
  • Cook Time1 hr
  • Total Time1 hr 5 min
  • Yield12 ounces
  • Serving Size2 tablespoons

    What you need:

    For the burger

    • 2 cups dried elderberries from Mountain Rose Herbs
    • 4 cups water
    • 1-2 inches of fresh ginger
    • Orange peel from 1 orange
    • 2 cinnamon sticks
    • 3/4 – 1 cup raw local honey or maple syrup for a vegan version
    • Amber bottle

    Preparing the spices


    Combine the berries and water in a large pot and bring to a slow boil. Reduce to low heat and add in orange peels, ginger, and cinnamon sticks. Simmer until berries are soft and the liquid is reduced by half.


    After about 30-45 minutes, strain through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer. Reserve the berries for composting or for tea.


    You should end up with about 1.5 cups of liquid. Pour the liquid back into the pot and stir in 3/4 to a cup of honey depending on how sweet you would like it. 

    Allow liquid to cool before putting it into your amber bottle. I like to use a small funnel to avoid losing it by risking a steady pour. Refrigerate and and take a spoonful a day to kick a cold! This lasts in my fridge for up to 6 months, but I usually finish it way before then! 








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